redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
A team of Austrian researchers have made a discovery that would put those genealogy websites to shame: they have located several living descendants of a 5,300-year-old human mummy.
The prehistoric individual, known as Ötzi the Iceman, was originally found frozen in the Alps back in 1991, according to Steve Nolan of the Daily Mail. The so-called ice mummy suffered from the oldest case of Lyme disease recorded to date, and was also lactose intolerant and predisposed to cardiovascular disease.
Now, forensic scientist Walther Parson and colleagues from the Institute of Legal Medicine at Innsbruck Medical University have identified 19 men who share a specific genetic mutation with Ötzi. These individuals were identified following an analysis of DNA samples from approximately 3,700 blood donors in the state of Tyrol, which is located in the western part of Austria.
“The discovery was made during a broader study into determining the origins of the people who now inhabit the Alpine regions. Along with their blood the donors were asked to provide their place of birth and family history,” said Matthew Day of The Telegraph.
To date, none of the men identified have been informed of their genetic link to Ötzi, Parson told Day. He added his research team is working with colleagues in Italy and Switzerland who are attempting to uncover the same genetic mutation in residents of those two nations.
Research conducted earlier this year by the European Academy of Bolzano/Bozen (EURAC) in Germany suggested the 5‘-2” tall, brown-eyed Ötzi had suffered brain damage, which was likely caused by a blow to the head, Nolan said.
Previous studies had suggested there was a hole in his collarbone, perhaps meaning he had been shot and killed with an arrow. In 2001, researchers from Innsbruck University ran a CAT scan on the mummy’s brain and found dark spots at the back of his cerebrum, suggesting he might have died from a head injury – possibly due to a fall suffered after he had been shot.
“Painstaking research revealed what his last meals were, where he lived and that he was about 45 years old when he met his demise high on the mountain,” Day added. “The ice had also preserved his clothes and a quiver of arrows, giving scientists a unique insight into the lives and technology of people from thousands of years ago.”